Hot out of the oven farinata is probably one of the best tastes that can instantly throw you back to Ligurian province of Italy.
But not only there. Farinata, cecina or torta di ceci [che-chee] is also widely popular in Tuscany, north-west of Sardinia (called “fainè”), island of Corsica and even French Riviera where it’s known as “socca”.
One of the legend says that it was originated in 13th century in Genova by an utter mistake.
In 1284 Genovese fleet returning with a victory from the battle with Pisa encountered rough seas and had been in a stormy weather for several days. The seawater seriously damaged the hold: bags with chickpeas were softened, a couple of barrels of olive broke down and all resulted in a mashed puree.
As the food became scarce everybody was forced to it what had been left. But some Pisans refused to eat it and left the pottage in the bowls. As the weather improved the contents of the bowl had dried out in the sun.
Hungry and exhausted they tried the dried meal and were astonished how good it was.
Since that time the recipe was improved and adapted and this is how we know it today.
Quickly baked in burning-hot wood ovens in shallow copper or aluminum pans farinata is far from a noble meal. But once you try it, it will become your favorite Italian “street food”.
Custardy and soft on the inside, golden brown with crispy edges on the outside it conquered a lot of big eaters and I’m sure once you try it you’ll be conquered as well.
You’ll need only 3 ingredients to make it.
Chickpea or Garbanzo Flour is the main ingredient and it’s highly recommended you use a quality fine-grind flour for the ultimate taste and texture. Hard to find stores you can easily get it online or check local Asian markets, they’re sure to have it.
To make the best farinata you should only follow two rules: give enough soaking time and make sure the oven is really hot.
And there you have it, Italian Farinata as Romans knew it.
But before you get to the recipe, I want to share with you my personal discovery to making out THE BEST of homemade farinata.
Use a preheated cast iron skillet pan as described in the recipe.
The pan should be really HOT when you pour in the batter. This helps farinata to brown nicely at the bottom like if were using a wood oven. It also helps easier remove it from the pan (just let it sit for a few minutes when you pulled it out of the oven).
Cecina or Farinata – Ligurian Chickpea Flatbread
In a mixing bowl add chickpea flour and gradually start adding water. Whisk well until the batter is smooth with an even consistency and without lumps.
Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 5 hrs. Better yet, leave it at a room temperature overnight. Otherwise you risk getting a grainy texture instead of creamy and custardy.
Preheat the oven to 500F.
If you’re using a cast iron skillet place it in the oven as well.
Skim off any foam that could have formed on the surface of the batter and whisk well after that.
You’ll notice how creamy and smooth the batter had become, especially if you let it rest for a longer time and allowed the flour to absorb as much liquid as it needed.
Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and salt to taste. Stir well.
Once the oven is preheated to the right temperature, spread remaining tablespoon of olive oil over your preheated cast iron skillet or pizza pan.
Pour the batter into the pan.
Using a fork stir gently the olive oil on the pan to create an even and well diffused texture.
Carefully place the pan in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. After that turn the oven to broil and cook farinata for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
It tastes best when seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and a few pinches of salt.
If you were wondering what farinata can be served with – here’s my honest answer.
Farinata is a complete meal in and of itself. I usually make it for snack or as a hot appetizer before dinner. Believe it or not most of the time it doesn’t even get to the serving plate!
BUT if you’d like to jazz it up a little, serve it with a simple mixed green salad on the top or caramelized onions with goat cheese. Sauteed garlic spinach could be a great compliment to a freshly baked farinata as well.
Seriously, you just cannot go wrong with it. So go with whatever floats your boat AND let me know if the comments below what that is 🙂